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I wouldn't have thought I was all that picky about podcatchers but I guess I am. I have tried a surprisingly large number of them and they've all let me down one way or another. My use case is getting content for my thumb drive to play in my car. In looking at and rejecting a succession of podcatchers I've developed a list of features I want - things I didn't think I would have to specify but I guess I do:

  • Store downloads in separate folders named based on the stream name, or let me specify the download directory for each stream.
  • Let me download selected past shows from a stream after "catching up."
  • Let me see the full title and comments about a show, aka the full text of a text RSS feed.
  • Let me download all new or selected items from all subscribed feeds with one click
  • Support feedburner feeds (used by MercuryNews.com and others)
  • Send downloads to a thumb drive reasonably, or let me specify the thumb drive's drive letter as the download directory
  • Show how long postings are (showing the file size is a reasonable compromise)

Here are the ones I've tried and at least one of the killer flaws in each:

Podcatcher Flaw(s) Comments
Juice (iPodder) Can't see the comments; can't download all new items from all feeds with one click. What's up with that? I have to select a feed and click "Download" individually?? Maybe I'm doing it wrong. This one is quite popular, but lacks advanced features like id3 tag editing.
podcastReady (myPodder; myPodder On A Stick) Can't see full titles or full comments; some feedburner feeds not supported (including at least two from the San Jose Mercury News). Comments appear in a tooltip but they are limited in size. Requires registration at their site which monitors your subscriptions (bad for privacy).
Doppler Can't download individual shows after marking past postings on a stream as "read."  
Ziepod I forget what the flaw was, but I removed it.  
  • Not free (which is not a fatal flaw)
  • If a feed is temporarily unavailable the program forgets the read/unread status of all the past shows and thinks everything's new.
  • Only lets you edit/set id3 tags if the destination is Windows Media Player, not on ordinary downloads or thumb drive synch.
  • The beta is a little buggy or fragile: it crashes with MS.Net exceptions (null references etc.), and sometimes hangs - so far not fatally.
Current release allows only 5 feeds in the unregistered version. New release expires after 30 days instead. Registration isn't that expensive. I might pay to register this.

You can disable the internal web browser (used when you click on links) this way: in the file settings.global in c:\documents and settings\ <your user name> \ Application Data \ RSSradio.local add <OpenLinksInExternalBrowser >Y< /OpenLinksInExternalBrowser>

iTunes Haven't tried it yet Not sure what the features are for podcatching when the destination is a thumb drive.


The program "id3" lets you see and edit the id3 tags of files. Many podcatchers let you fire off a program (often a batch file) for custom post-processing of downloaded files. So that's how you can write id3 info into mp3 downloads that don't have it, or that have useless or wrong info.


This page was last edited April 26, 2008.